Is Tom Brady’s 4-Game Ban the Dumbest Suspension Ever?

By Kory Walker
Published on July 13, 2016
Tom Brady Passing

New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady will likely see his four-game suspension stick for good, as federal appeals court rejected his latest attempt to overturn the NFL-imposed suspension on Wednesday.

Brady still has one last gasp with a shot at the Supreme Court hearing his appeal, but having been turned down to this point, it’s looking like his fight against the NFL is slowly coming to an end.

Brady did escape his initial four-game ban for the entire 2015 NFL season, but the odds of him starting come week one this September aren’t looking good.

On to Jimmy G

That puts career backup Jimmy Garoppolo in the driver’s seat to start New England’s first four games of the 2016 NFL season, where he’ll face off against the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills.

It’s anyone’s guess how that pans out. Garoppolo was drafted in round two of the 2014 NFL Draft for a reason, but he’s quite inexperienced and didn’t look amazing when preparing for a Tom Brady suspension last summer.

Brady in the Wrong?

We’ll have plenty of time to worry about Jimmy G or if Brady can capitalize on however many remaining chances he has to push this suspension away.

For now, it’s sticking and it’s looking like Tom Brady is actually going to sit out the first four games of the 2016 NFL season, over a year after we first heard of #Deflategate in all of it’s ridiculousness.

Rob Dyrdek would be disgusted, even with this thing being stuck on a constant loop that has had the league look silly every step of the way.

Of course, that probably depends on where you stand on Tom Brady’s part in this so-called NFL scandal. Perhaps it’s nothing more than you think Brady is the league’s golden boy. Maybe you hate the Patriots. You might be a Bills, Jets or Dolphins fan.

That, or you actually believe Tom Brady did something wrong here and you’re standing up for the “integrity of the game” and backing “the shield”. That’s noble, but the problem is you might be fighting for the wrong side.

Again, that’s just one writer’s take. It’s an opinion game and given this odd suspension and everything that plays into it, that’s been clear throughout the entire process.

The main reason is because of a lack of proof, plus the actual infraction itself. For one, did anyone actually prove that Tom Brady did anything wrong? And even if he did, was it worth all this fuss to catch him for quite possibly the dumbest infraction we’ve ever seen?

We’ve seen other NFL quarterbacks admit to messing with their footballs. Brad Johnson said he paid someone to “scuff” his balls up before Super Bowl 37.

He was far from the only pro quarterback to admit to “messing” with footballs before games, either. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers admitted he preferred his balls to be jam-packed with air:

They aren’t the only examples of other quarterbacks who have preferred their footballs a certain way and tampered with them to get them to their liking.

Of course, that may not make it “right” or even legal when you ask the league. But the point is two-fold; if Brady is the only one being targeted for such an act in this investigation, it could tell us that the league is specifically going after him for some reason and that this is a pregame act that is otherwise fairly universal in the league.

If that is the case, any actual infraction that led to #Deflategate could fall on the league and their ball inspection prior to the start of games.

Brady’s Lone Mistake

Outside of maybe not completely telling the truth about a silly ball infraction, Brady is only truly guilty of one thing: he destroyed his cell phone so the NFL couldn’t see what was on it.

That is a personal device, though. Brady could have had any number of reasons for destroying his phone – all of which could very well be personal. It also could have been as simple as Brady getting a new phone and trashing his old one.

Maybe Brady had photos, emails, notes, etc he didn’t want the NFL (or anyone) being privy to. That really is his right, too. The NFL isn’t the police and in Brady’s mind, his photo wasn’t relevant to a scandal that he quite obviously thought to be silly in the first place.

Did Brady Cheat?

If we’re just looking at the rulebook and not allowing any objectiveness, sure, maybe Brady did cheat. Rules are rules for a reason.

However, it’s odd that the league would stick to that and not stick to the punishment for tampering with footballs, which is a $25,000 fine. A fine, not an eradicated first round pick (the Pats didn’t have one this year) or a four-game ban for a guy they have no actual proof of any wrong-doing.

It’s worth pointing out that in the game the balls were first discovered to be under-inflated (a playoff game against the Colts two years ago) Brady came out and destroyed Indianapolis in the second half. In that second half, the balls were inflated properly.

Another game against the Baltimore Ravens was brought up, as well, where kicking balls were deflated for both sides. That wasn’t favoring the Patriots, though, while deflated footballs don’t really benefit kickers, either.

The point? Brady didn’t think he was cheating and didn’t admit to cheating. Without any real proof that he personally had a hand in the deflating of the footballs, it’s tough to pin the entire scandal on him.

Dumbest Suspension Ever?

The big takeaway here, though, is that Brady looked like a hunted man from the very beginning.

Maybe he lied and maybe he knew exactly what was going on with the balls from the very start. Perhaps the Patriots are every bit the cheating organization everyone seems to think they are.

Even if that’s the case, it’s tough to agree that the punishment fits the crime. For one, it’s entirely believable that Brady knew about the deflated balls, but never actually did any deflating himself. That does make him party to “cheating”, but he might not be any more responsible than any other offensive player that also handle the footballs during warmups.

It’s even more difficult to drop the hammer on Brady when the team itself already received a hefty punishment (voided 1st rounder and a $1 million fine). That’s quite the penalty by itself, but the league didn’t stop there and went out of its way to deface the franchise leader.

The real problem is the length of the suspension. Brady didn’t do drugs, he wasn’t using steroids, he wasn’t involved in domestic abuse. He didn’t push a referee or fight with a player.

A four-game ban was more about sending a message and commissioner Roger Goodell putting his foot down on an organization that was publicly regarded as a band of cheater. This was more about a league vendetta than actually getting to the bottom of what happened, who was responsible or what the appropriate response by the league should be.

Instead of going about it the right way, the NFL, as it is one to day, went about it the way they felt like going. They made an example of Brady and the Patriots and while it didn’t hurt the franchise until over a year later, it still feels silly. It feels unnecessary. For a lack of a better word, it really just feels dumb.

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